Pollution Does Discriminate in Orlando’s Parramore Neighborhood

Poor air quality has decimated the health of residents in this predominantly black community ringed by highways.

2 minute read

January 31, 2018, 12:00 PM PST

By Katharine Jose


Race Map

Race and ethnicity in Orlando. Red is White, blue is Black, green is Asian, Orange is Hispanic, yellow is Other, and each dot is 25 residents. Data from Census 2010. Base map © OpenStreetMap | Eric Fischer / Flickr

At the Huffington Post, Julia Craven has a deeply reported piece on air quality in one of Orlando’s poorest, most isolated neighborhoods.

“The pollution in Griffin Park [housing project] and its low-income Parramore neighborhood is violence of a kind Americans tend to ignore. But it is as deliberate and as politically determined as any more recognizable act of racial violence. What happened to Griffin Park was the sum of a series of choices made over the course of a century, the effect of which was to transmute formal segregation into the very air certain people breathe.”

The link between neighborhood air quality and neighborhood health is well established, as is the link between highway proximity and discriminatory planning.

“Although air pollution has generally decreased in the United States since the passage of the Clean Air Act of 1970, it still causes 200,000 early deaths each year. Men, poor people and African-Americans are disproportionately at risk. According to a comprehensive Harvard University study last year of air pollution in the U.S., black people are about three times more likely to die from exposure to airborne pollutants than others.”

Federal air quality standards could make an impact, but under the current president, that’s unlikely. The Trump Administration has reduced the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency by one-third, failed to update air quality maps and rolled back regulations intended to reduce carbon dioxide emissions; the founder of the EPA's Environmental Justice Office resigned in protest.

“Segregation persists,” Craven writes, “entrenched through housing and zoning policy and through the construction of urban expressways that literally turned existing racial borders to concrete. This was not an unintended consequence; this was the whole point." 

Tuesday, January 23, 2018 in Huffington Post

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